Individuals who have experienced trama often find it difficult to stay within the ‘window of tolerance’. Grounding techniques (which can be sensory/perceptual or cognitive) are an essential treatment technique for trauma therapists and anyone who struggles with the consequences of trauma.
Grounding techniques are a essential tool for individuals struggling with PTSD or dissociation. Intrusive memories (flashbacks) can make us temporarily lose touch with reality. Other dissociative experiences can mentally take us away from our experience of the present moment. This can be extremely distressing – some people feel like they are losing their minds because of these involuntary experiences. Grounding is a term used to describe any techniques which are used to bring a person back in contact with the present moment. Forms of sensory stimulation (e.g. smells, textures) are commonly used, and grounding statments are also helpful.
The term ‘grounding techniques’ can refer to any technique which acts to bring an individual’s attention back to the present moment.
Sensory grounding techniques use the power of your senses to ground your attention in the present moment
Cognitive grounding techniques aim to allow an individual to reassure themselves that they are safe in the present moment by, for example, telling oneself that the trauma is over and that they are safe in the at the present time / location.
- Fisher, J. (1999). The work of stabilization in trauma treatment. Trauma Center Lecture Series, Boston, Massachusetts.